We’ve packaged up DayBack Calendar as an add-on: and if you watch the video below, I think you’ll agree that FileMaker 19 add-ons are a game-changer for developers.
What Are FileMaker 19 Add-Ons?
“Add-on” can refer to both the new objects being inserted into your file–a chart widget, for example, could be called an add-on. And “add-on” can refer to the way those objects are added to your file. This new way of installing things is what’s so revolutionary about add-ons. We’ve had chart widgets for years, but installing them could be tricky. The add-on tech introduced in FM19 makes installation much, much simpler.
You can download an app as a .fmp12 file, or download the same file packaged up as an add-on. One, you’ll add to your file the old copy-and-paste way, and one you’ll add to your file using the new add-on process. The end result is the same. However, installing as an add-on is crazy fast. Check this out…
Download & Get Started
Please play with DayBack and see what it feels like to use a new FileMaker 19 add-on: download the DayBack add-on here and then follow along in the video above. When it comes to placing the video in FileMaker’s extensions folder, here’s where it goes:
Mac: HD/Users/YOU/Library/Application Support/FileMaker/Extensions/AddonModules
The add-on package for DayBack is really just a bunch of JSON, not a FileMaker file you can open and use. If you want to download a copy of DayBack you can play with before installing it into your file, download a copy here: DayBack Calendar for FileMaker 19.
Learn How to Make FileMaker 19 Add-Ons
We expect that Claris will eventually publish some documentation to go with the new “Save a Copy as Add-on Package” script step in FileMaker 19. But I doubt they’ll improve on the level of detail Jeremy Brown has provided in his overview. Those are the best instructions currently available: Creating FileMaker Add-Ons.
Add-On Tech is Here, but New Add-Ons Are Not
If FileMaker 19 add-ons are so cool, why hasn’t Claris shipped their own add-ons yet? That’s a good question and probably points to the fact that the add-on tech isn’t completely finished. There are a few rough edges:
- You can see things that still need to be polished in the way add-on leave comments behind on the relationship when the add-on is uninstalled
- Some aspects of the add-on’s info.json file don’t appear to be respected, or maybe they’re just not in use yet.
- You may find your object names prefaced with “com.fmi” if you install add-ons using a system language other than English. For example, you may see layout names like “com.fmi.DayBack Calendar Layout.” That’s not great, but add-ons are easy to uninstall.
Remember that the core add-on tech has been in FileMaker since version 17, where it was used to deliver “add-on tables” like notes and attachments. Those original add-ons are still here in 19, and you can add them to your file just like you add DayBack.
Given all that, should I use add-ons? It seems to us that the newest and most fragile part of the add-on tech is the object you’re supposed to drag on to your layouts, and how that object is uniquely named and referenced in your scripts. DayBack’s add-on doesn’t use that at all. So, providing that you switch your machine to English before installing, we don’t think there will be any problems using DayBack’s add-on.
We expect Claris to include a number of refinements to add-on tech in the next release of FileMaker 19. If you’d like to hold off on using add-ons, you can still install DayBack by hand. Either link DayBack to your file (very quick) or embed it manually (kind of tedious, but not hard). Instructions for both methods are available here.
Coding is Sharing
FileMaker developers have been looking forward to this tech for a long time. Enhancements like this make code more portable and more encapsulated. They are accelerants for the community of 3rd party apps and developers and, in our opinion, are some of the most effective enhancements Claris can make to the platform. Very psyched to see this coming to life: cheers to the product team. And cheers to Todd and Jeremy for publishing their instructions on how to package add-ons!